Syrian ex-spokesman defects

Syria’s former foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, who is also well known in London’s diplomatic circles as the former press attaché at the Syrian Embassy, has broken his silence after his disappearance in December last year to confirm his defection.

Using Twitter, Mr Makdissi confirmed that he was no longer working for the Assad government but added that he had not joined any specific opposition group, saying he wished to remain “independent”.

Outlining his reasons for leaving the country, he said: “There is no longer room for moderation in this chaos.”

Denying reports that he had fled to the US or Europe, Mr Makdissi said he was residing with “honourable brothers who are helping the Syrian people get through their humanitarian crisis” but gave no further clues about his whereabouts.

Mr Makdissi said those rebelling against Assad’s regime had “legitimate demands” and had “won the hearts” of the Syrian people but had yet to win their minds.